How to talk and build diverse science communities: Listen.

What do you mean "listen"? It’s a counter intuitive lesson and one that’s been reported to improve how you talk with others. Recently, Alan Alda on the Science Friday podcast, noted that to be a better communicator, you need to listen. He says, “[listen] even better than the person you’re speaking with’.

I love that Alda’s message resembles Fred Newman's video, How to Talk that I used to open the first meeting of Cultivating Ensembles in STEM Education and Research (CESTEMER, pronounced keh-stem-er) conference then titled Performance, Science and Science Education in 2012. 

Why open a meeting with a title and topic of listening? Because bringing people together from different disciplines, different states, different political and philosophical backgrounds in a way that builds community, requires listening. When people say something that you don’t believe to be true, how do you build a conversation? You listen harder. You stretch emotionally. You develop conversational muscles that allow you to explore how you both see things so differently, respectfully and passionately. It's the exploration with one another that creates a conversational partnership, or as I like to say, collaborative communication.

At the CESTEMER conference, attendees create an environment to explore how working across disciplines -- arts, humanities and STEM—can benefit everyone. Perhaps, you ask the question that Tom Rudin from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine addresses at this year's CESTEMER: “How Do You Know?”